San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico - When my wife Glenda and I encountered our first Tailless Whip Scorpion, we had only been living in San Blas for about a month. We were new to Mexico and the tropics and knew virtually nothing about the creatures that inhabit this area.
I was sitting at my desk when I noticed something on a shelf that hadn't been there before. At first glance, it looked like a wad of black string with several threads hanging over the edge of the shelf. I started to reach towards it when it moved, startling me. A closer look revealed a large, matte black spider-looking thing with large black claws, long spidery legs and antennae.
I called Glenda over ... "Come check out this interesting bug!" Actually, that's not what I said at all, not even close, but for the sake of decency, let's leave it at that. Needless to say, she was as awestruck and concerned as I was.
The "bug" was on a shelf that was up against the wall. It was in a corner of the shelf, somewhat boxed in. I got a broom and flipped it around so that I was holding it like a pool cue. I brought the end of it right up to the bug and drove it forward as quickly as I could. The best way I can describe what happened next is that the bug simply disappeared. Neither Glenda or I saw it move or saw which way it went... it had simply vanished.
We looked everywhere in the small apartment but could find no trace of it. This was disturbing, as now there was a good chance that it was angry. We had fired the first shot and missed.
The next day I told one of my Mexican friends about it. He told me that they were not poisonous, but that they could jump three meters in any direction in an instant. "It's like they are from outer space!" he exclaimed.
Tailless Whip Scorpions are members of the arachnid family like spiders and scorpions. They are not scorpions as they have no tail and no stinger. They have a total of eight eyes, two in front on stalks similar to crab eyes, and three smaller eyes on each side of its head. They have no fangs or venom.
Their two front legs have evolved into feeler/antennae that can be as long as a foot or more. They are very thin like hairs and are what the animal uses to find prey and feel it's way around in the dark. These are the "whips" from which it gets it's name. Typically, they holds one of these feelers out in front of it as it moves, and uses the other to probe the terrain to the side. They also use these feelers to communicate with other Whip Scorpions.
Five years later, we rented a house on the outskirts of San Blas next to the ruins of the old Playa Hermosa hotel. It had been vacant for a while. As Glenda was putting the dishes away she saw another Tailless Whip Scorpion under the sink.
This one was bigger than the first.
After the first sighting, I had done a little research and found out that they make good pets. In fact, a place in Florida sells them as such, and there are hundreds of pictures and videos online of people and their pet Whip Scorpions. Since we now knew a little more about these creatures, we were not worried about it. It eventually made it's way out to the garage/shop area, where it lived for over a year. During this time I "made friends" with it, allowing it to touch me with it's feelers.
I would assume that quite a few of you have encountered these arachnids, especially those of you who live in rural areas. I would also assume that the typical response to seeing these animals would be like my initial response... "Kill it!" The fact is, these creatures are no threat to humans and can even be held (if you can catch one). They are tragically misunderstood, given an ominous appearance by God and an equally ominous name by humans. But we need not fear the Tailless Whip Scorpion.Vic Pittman is a freelance writer from Scotts Mills, Oregon who resides alternately, in Oregon and Mexico. He is the holder of no literary awards, journalistic awards or college degrees. He has at one time or another been an honor student, inmate, biker, Christian, pothead, father, radical, pacifist, anarchist, artist, heavy metal guitarist, model citizen, lawbreaker, business owner, illegal marijuana grower, and volunteer for various causes. He is proud to be a "common man," and be among those striving to make this world a better place if at all possible. He was fortunate enough to have been raised by awesome parents who instilled what he feels to be essential values and encouraged him to feel a kinship with not just family or Oregonians or Americans or whites, but every person on Earth, and to act accordingly. He and his wife Glenda currently live in Nayarit, Mexico. You can write to Vic at tropicats08(at)hotmail.com.